How To Reuse & Recycle Glass Candle Jars

How To Reuse & Recycle Glass Candle Jars

If you’re anything like me, the candle aisle is a must-stop every time you go to the supermarket. All the scents and beautiful containers are simply irresistible so you inevitably buy one (or four). However, after a few weeks of enjoying your new candle, you’re left with a chunk of wax stuck to a soot-covered candle jar. You might find yourself wondering - what to do with empty candle jars?

If you’re an extra responsible human and lucky enough to live in a place where glass waste is picked up for recycling, you may take on the messy process of cleaning the leftover wax out of the bottom of the candle container, and then properly dispose of it in a recycling bin. If you do this, you’re an amazing human and we salute you! If you’re like most people, you may or may not cringe a bit before tossing that container that once brought you joy right into the trash can.

The Burdens of Reusing Traditional Wax Candle Jars

When we first started researching this problem, we discovered some disturbing statistics. In 2018, landfills received approximately 7.6 million tons of glass as municipal waste. That’s about the weight of 144 (!) Titanic ships. Every year. Yikes!

It turns out, in the US, only about a third of the glass we use at our homes gets recycled. We know not all this is from candles (cheers to all our fellow wine and beer drinkers), but when looking at all the cute little candle jars around us, candle containers must be a huge contributor.

Reusing glass candle jars not only presents a sustainability conundrum, but an issue of effort as well when it comes to what to do with empty candle jars. This is especially true when dealing with traditional wax candles as the process of scraping out waxy residue from jars to prepare them for their next use can be tedious and time-consuming.   

Below, we’ll explore practical tips on how to repurpose candle holders and glass candle jars, which is smarter for us and kinder to our planet.

The 3 Best Ways of Cleaning Old Candle Jars.

Method 1: The Freezer Method



Step 1: Place the candle holder into the freezer
Step 2: After at least an hour, remove the candle jar from the freezer.
Step 3: Hold the jar upside down, and gently tap the bottom to make the wax release from the jar.
Step 4: Wipe the jar with paper towels to remove any remaining wax residue, then wash the jar with soap and water.

Most candle waxes shrink when they get cold, making them easy to remove from their containers. If it’s still stuck, use something like an old chopstick to pierce the wax and try to spin it around to release it from the jar.

This is by far the easiest method for cleaning candle wax out of glass jars…when it works. Some candle waxes, especially soy wax candles are softer and sticker, making them harder to remove with the freezer method. Good news is that we have more tricks up our sleeves!

Method 2: The Lava Lamp Method



Step 1: Pour hot water into the candle jar.
Step 2: Watch the wax at the bottom of the jar start to melt and rise to the water surface. This looks like a lava lamp and can be oddly satisfying to watch!
Step 3: Once the wax has cooled, you can gently push down on it to release the wax from the jar in one piece.
Step 4: Put paper towels on the drain in your sink before pouring the water down the drain. If there is still wax remaining at the bottom of the jar, repeat the above steps until all the wax floats to the surface
Step 5: Wipe the jar with paper towels to remove any remaining wax residue before washing with soap and water.

This method is effective but can take several rounds of hot water if there is a thick layer of wax present. In that case, Method 3 might be more efficient.

Method 3: The Hot Bath Method



Step 1: Pour hot water into a bowl that’s larger than your candle jar.
Step 2: Place the candle jar into the hot water and hold it in the water to warm up the jar.
Step 3: When you see the edges of the wax touching the jar turn clear, it means that the wax has melted and should release from the jar.
Step 4: Take an old chopstick or something else pointy to stab into the wax (make a wax popsicle!) and remove it from the jar.
Step 5: Wipe the jar with paper towels to remove any remaining wax residue, then wash the jar with soap and water.

Tips for Removing Stickers from Candle Jars

One of the most annoying parts of cleaning candle jars is how to remove the stickers. Here are 3 ways to remove stickers from glass jars:

  1. Heat up the sticker with a hair dryer. Heat softens certain adhesives, making them easier to peel off the jar.
  2. Stick it in the freezer. Some adhesives get less sticky when they get cold, releasing them from the candle jar.
  3. Soak the label in warm water, and remove as much as you can by scraping it. Then, use either cooking oil, rubbing alcohol, or a product like Goo Gone to remove the remaining sticker residue.

Striking a Balance Between Aesthetic Appeal and Environmental Responsibility

Upcycling and Recycling Glass Candle Jars

Once you’ve successfully cleaned your candle jar, you might be looking for ways to reuse your candle containers.

One creative way to upcycle candle jars is by transforming them into storage containers for items such as spices, beads, or buttons. Once you clean out your candle jars, you can repurpose them for all types of organization. You could also consider using them as stylish holders for LED lights to fashion an alluring, rustic look inside or out. There are even other uses for votive candle holders as well. You could craft your own delightful mini gardens by repurposing these tiny containers for small plants or succulents.

For those looking to recycle glass candle jars, make sure the jars are thoroughly cleaned before placing them in recycling bins. Many municipalities accept glass for recycling, where it’s melted down and repurposed into new glass products. By taking the time to recycle old candles, you can help reduce waste and promote sustainability in your community.

Utilizing Refillable Jars and Ecofriendlier Materials

We hope you’ll follow these steps to clean your candle jars to reuse them instead of throwing them away. If you find yourself accumulating too many jars, you may still be looking for what to do with old candle jars once you clean them. Foton Pearled Candles were created as a sustainable solution to let you reuse candle jars so you wouldn’t need to keep buying new ones. They allow you to refill old candle jars to reduce waste and make them look and smell brand new again. Just pour Foton pearls into the clean jar, insert a wick into the pearls, leaving only a small tip visible, and then light it. It’s the simplest refill for your old candle jars and makes the reuse of candle jars quick and easy. 

Crafted from sustainable materials and free from harmful chemicals, Foton Pearled Candles burn cleanly and efficiently, minimizing pollution and promoting healthier indoor environments. Their refillable nature reduces landfill waste, contributing to a more circular approach to decor.

In embracing the art of upcycling and recycling glass candle jars, we not only breathe new life into everyday objects but also contribute to a more sustainable future. Let's continue to unleash our creativity and embrace environmental consciousness by transforming waste into wonders — one jar at a time!


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